Tag Archives: addiction

Know Him As Savior First

An excerpt out of Calling All Workers “The Harvest Is Ripe, the Worker Is You!” by Michelle E. Caswell
Get your copy on purelyhisministry.com, abooksmart.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com or Evangel Bookstore.Screenshot 2015-03-09 20.12.02

The more you realize how much you have truly been forgiven for, the deeper you will be able to love. You are not any better than anyone else. We are all horrible sinners. The quicker you know that, the more deeply you can connect with the Lord and others. God knows how bad we are, how good we think we are, and He still chose us. God sees the end from the beginning. He saw all the sins you were going to commit, and He looked at you and said, “See that one? I’ll take her as my own.” Let that one sink in a minute.

God has so many names and titles, but you need to know Him as your Savior first, because the greatest commandment is love—and the key to experiencing that kind of love is realizing what you’ve been forgiven for.
Those who have been forgiven much, love much.
— Luke 7:47 (paraphrase of verse)

What have you been forgiven for? Reach into the depths of your painful past, and recount the things He has forgiven you for—in order for you to love better. This will also give you the joy of your salvation back! Keep in mind, it’s important to look at your sin without downplaying it by comparing it to someone else’s “worse” sin.

Real Life Example:
I had been in rehab for a few months at the time, and I remember holding onto the “fact” that I was a good person who happened to have a drug addiction. I mean, “Come on Lord…I would give my last cigarette, smoke my last bowl of marijuana with someone, make dinner for elderly neighbors, I was even nice when I turned a guy down who asked me to dance. I was a good person, and I still am.”

I was trying to make myself not feel so bad. In fact, I was justifying my behavior to the Lord, while trying to convince myself that my “good deeds” could cancel out my sin. I wanted to hold onto some shred of self-esteem. That’s when the Lord knocked me off my high horse and showed me my motives.

He said, “Look at the reasons that you chose to do those things for people…it was all about what they thought of you, not that you cared about them. You made dinner for those elderly women, because a guy was watching you—and you wanted him to think that you would be a good wife. Apart from me, you are nothing.”

I doubled over, holding my stomach and bawling. I realized that I had absolutely nothing to offer, and there was no good in me. That’s the day I really began to change. I was emptied of myself, and the Lord was able to start filling me back up with Him.

When you realize the sin in your own life—whether past or present—and recognize Jesus as your much-needed Savior, it will help you relate better to those the Lord calls you to work with, and will give you a deeper compassion for them. You don’t have to have a super crazy testimony to have a deep understanding and appreciation for God’s grace and how to love His people. You don’t need to experience the exact same trauma or sin in your past to be able to empathize with someone’s deep pain. However, when truly recognizing your own deep pains and horrible sin choices, you will be more equipped with compassion than if you don’t allow yourself to go there. So GO THERE. Take some time with the Lord, and ask Him to remind you of all the things He’s forgiven you for—and then begin to thank Him.

Too many times, we want to compare our sins to another, and decide for ourselves that their sin is worse than ours. That is not how the Lord weighs sin. You have been forgiven of so much, so take the time to recognize it, and watch the joy of your salvation return!

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
— Luke 7:47

THAT Kind of Girl

I’d been dating Matt for a couple months when I felt compelled to share with him the last “Big One” about my past, before a serious commitment was made between us. I wanted him to know everything up front, so that he could make an educated decision about spending his life with me, plus I wanted to be loved for all the right reasons (not ones I made up or left out). I knew all too well what being “loved” for the wrong reasons felt like, so in order to avoid that mistake again I chose to be completely honest, even at the risk of losing him. Besides, I had worked too hard and waited way too long to settle for anything less than God’s best for me. I knew that He had an awesome plan and wouldn’t want me settling for a guy who couldn’t accept where I had come from, but more importantly who I was now.

I picked up the phone to call; my heart was about to pound out of my chest as I took a deep breath…“I’m really scared to tell you this, but this is where the ‘rubber meets the road’ with my faith. I’m going to trust the Lord with your response, but more importantly with my heart.” I braced myself and spit it out.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I tend to get “buyer’s remorse” right after sharing something big like that, especially if I really want their approval or they can’t personally relate to my past. In this case, Matt qualified for both categories. After I was done sharing he asked me a few clarifying questions and then he got a little quiet. He likes to take his time and quietly contemplate and I like to talk through it, so his quietness made me even more nervous than I already was. We awkwardly said goodbye and expressed that we were excited to see each other the following day as I had planned to drive down and see him.

Early the next morning, the boys and I packed up the car and made our way down South. I was so nervous every time my phone made a noise, as I envisioned the dreaded call “I’m sorry Michelle, we get along so good and I really like you, BUT your past is just TOO MUCH for me.” But THAT call never came…it was the longest 4 ½ hours.

It was hard to share my past with him, because he grew up in a two parent Christian home, had worked for the same company for almost twenty years, never been drunk, never done any drugs or even smoked a cigarette. He spent his high school years in youth group and going on Mexican mission trips. He could count the number of women he’d kissed in his life on one hand and I’m one of them. So when I compared our pasts-I got really freaked out. Comparison is a killer and it stokes the fire of fear. I was comparing our pasts and coming to my own realistic outcome and it wasn’t good. I thought “There’s no way a guy like him is going to fall for a girl like me.”

We had a great time visiting that weekend (like always) and on the last evening he invited me on a walk, just after it had gotten dark. He grabbed a flashlight and his Bible and off we went. I felt like he was up to something, but I wasn’t sure what it was. We were walking around his neighborhood holding hands, as he showered me with compliments and expressed his gratefulness for what we had.

We found a semi secluded spot near an open field under a street light and sat down on the curb. We snuggled up together as he opened his Bible. He said “I’m sure you have heard this chapter a million times before, however I would like to share how it reminds me of you, but if you don’t mind I would like to skip verse 10 and start with 11 instead.” So he began reading out of his NIV Bible, stopping after each verse to explain how it related to me.

Proverbs 31:
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
         “Now Michelle, I know I’m not your husband, but I totally trust you and in my line of work that’s not easy for me, but your genuine and sometimes brutal honesty makes it easy.”

12 She brings him good not harm,
all the days of her life.
         “You are so good to me and you make me so happy. I trust that you have my best interest at heart.”

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
         “You are a very hard and thorough worker and I appreciate that about you.”

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
   “I don’t want to compare you to a ship, but you’re a good cook.”

15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
“You like to get up early and you’re always looking out for others needs, especially your sons and the Girls you mentor.”

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
“You’re frugal with money and you like to garden too.”

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
“You are really strong and you don’t give up.”

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
“You accomplish quite a bit during the day and are still busy at night.”

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
  “Not sure what that means, but you probably do that too?”

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
   “You are such a servant Michelle. You are always helping others, even with money you don’t have. I wish I had that kind of faith.”

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
“You always put your kid’s needs above your own, making sure their bills are paid for, they have a nice clean home to live in and you go to most of their sport events to support them.”

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
“I am honored and proud to have you by my side, because you are, who you say you are, and Jesus radiates from inside of you.”

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
“You are so funny…you always make me laugh.”

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
“Your wisdom amazes me. You’re always giving sound Godly advice.”

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
“I like the way you run your household, especially your relationships your sons.”

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
“You’re a really good mom to the boys and I believe that my girls are blessed to have your influence in their life too. I know that you would be a great step-mom to them, if God blessed us with you.”
her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
“I have never met a woman like you…ever. You truly do surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
“You are gorgeous on the outside, but more importantly your relationship with Jesus shines through and makes you even more beautiful. I can see that you have a very healthy fear of the Lord and you deserve so much praise for that.”

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
“I say all of this to give you the honor you truly deserve. Now I want to go back to verse 10 and read it.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small square box, my heart leapt with fear and anticipation…he gave me a smirk and said “don’t worry, I’m not about to propose to you.” Followed by a bit of a sinking feeling, cause I would have said “YES!!!” Ha…ha…I know that’s quick, but anyways…

 10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth FAR more than rubies.
“I am so proud of the woman that you have allowed God to make you into, you are a miracle. My hope is that God will continue to give me the privilege of dating you and someday I will get to be your husband, but until then I want you to know that I am all in. There is no one else. You have my full attention and my commitment to you. You are worth FAR MORE than rubies,” and then he opened the little black box and presented me with a ruby and diamond ring to wear as a promise ring.

I accepted of course with tears in my eyes and said “I thought you were going to break up with me not give me a ring.” He said “WHAT?? Why in the world would I let you get away that easy?” I sheepishly replied, “I thought you would think that I was too much for you after my last confession that I made.” He replied, like only he can “You are the perfect amount for me, not too much-not too little.” Oh my…that was better than any marriage proposal I had ever heard of, which made me wonder how he was going to propose to me later on. Stay tuned for that story…

What Matt didn’t know is that over the last several years I had been praying for God to make me into a Proverbs 31 woman, you see the Proverbs 7 woman (I suggest you look it up when you have a chance) was the perfect description of who I used to be, but I desperately desired to be a Proverbs 31 woman, however six years prior to that night there was nothing on that 31 list that described me. So although I was extremely excited about Matt and very relieved that we were still together, I was even more excited and relieved that the Lord had answered my fervent prayers and transformed me into “THAT kind of Girl” from a 7 to a 31. The thought (fear) of “a guy like him never falling for a girl like me” was so ridiculous, because he was falling for the Girl I was now, not then. THAT Girl was gone forever along with her addictions, false motives and cunning ways.

If you are in a position of trying to go from a 7 to a 31, just know that it IS possible, very possible, BUT only by the grace of God. He CAN change you into the woman that you have always dreamed of being-the woman you were created to be. I love how the Lord has taken new experiences to cover up the old experiences and used them to remind me that I am a different person now…thanks to Him.

God is Pro-Choice

I believe God’s greatest gift to us, aside from grace, is the power to choose. Love is a choice, if it’s forced then it’s no different than rape. We can choose to abort our children or not, it’s our choice, even the laws of the land say that. We can choose to get divorced or not. We can choose to serve God or not. Whatever it is that we choose, we will have to live with the consequences, whether good or bad, whether short lived or for a lifetime.

Learn to “play it out”…what will it feel like or look like when you are raising your kids on your own? Your husband, now ex-husband not only moves out, but leaves the state and doesn’t pursue a relationship with your son. Minimal child support, no birthday cards, Christmas presents or regular visits. Your son never gets the much needed validation from his dad and you can’t make up for it.

What are you going to feel like after you get wasted tonight at that party? Throwing up in the bathroom, falling asleep on a public toilet, only to be carried outside by strangers and not even remember it. Calling in sick to work, because you’re hung over. Your kids are late for school again, because you slept through your alarm.

How are you going to feel when your child asks you to explain why you had an affair that ended your marriage with her dad? Picture her eyes of disappointment and disgust. Picture her following in the footsteps of your shameful example.

How will you feel in the future when your kids asked why you lied to them? “You said you were not going back to him again, you promised you wouldn’t. You’re a liar.”

On the other hand: Play this out…

Imagine graduating from that rehab program and sharing your testimony after one year of being clean. Your family is in the audience crying tears of joy, because they always knew you could do it, if you just made the choice.

Imagine having a twenty-seven year prayer answered as your mom gets clean and sober two years after you, because you paved the way by prayer and example.

Imagine seeing the Lord at the end of your life as He so proudly and lovingly says “Well done…well done good and faithful servant. You had a rocky start, but you finished strong.”

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galations 6:7.

The choice is yours.  All of these stories are personal to me, although I haven’t met the Lord face to face yet, I live my life in such a way as to someday hear those words I long for. Just remember: several little bad decisions-lead to a bad life, likewise several little good decisions-lead to a good life. Just make one good decision at a time and you’ll be living a good life before you know it.

Listen to this song by Casting Crowns “It’s a slow fade”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QASREBVDsLk

Secret Struggle

Well it looks like my week to be humbled, again…I was secretly hoping they would cancel my appointment due to icy road conditions, but no such luck. Fear crept into my heart as I anticipated going to the dentist today. Being new to the area I hadn’t seen this particular dentist, which is intimidating for a lot of people, but for me it’s especially humbling too. Sitting in the waiting room trying to calm my anxiety by asking the Lord to give me courage and peace, as I waited for my name to be called.

A look into the past: I actually dated my husband for several months before he finally asked the dreaded question, “How did you escape the damaging effects of being a drug addict, like losing your teeth?”  My body nervously shook as I texted, “I didn’t. I just got really good at hiding it, my sons didn’t even know until I told them. But God blessed me with a really good Christian dentist who donated his time and made two partials for me.”

You see, most people are shocked when they hear that I used to be a drug addict, especially one who was hooked on Meth. I don’t look like the “typical” recovered addict, primarily because God has healed me in so many areas and even provided me with a wonderful dentist who donated his time to restore some of my dignity. Now I can smile and laugh without covering my mouth in shame and on a practical level I’m able to chew food properly again. The usual response I get from people whom I choose to share this secret with, including dentists, say they’re proud of me for coming out of that lifestyle and staying out. They don’t judge me, like my fear declares they will.

This is a secret I usually reserve to share with recovering addicts to encourage them when they’re feeling ashamed of their looks and fearful that no one will be able to see past the stigma of their past. However, as I sat nervously in the dentist chair today, the Lord prompted me to share this secret with all of you. Quite possibly to give me the opportunity to further humble myself by sharing something that is still pretty embarrassing, but as I’m typing this tonight I have a hunch that there’s a reader that needs to hear this tomorrow, so if this is for you than my embarrassment is completely worth it to encourage you in some way.

Lord, have your way in this person’s life, like you have in mine.

Found

If Jesus would have come back eight years ago, I would have ran from Him, because of my shameful lifestyle. The thought of His return filled my heart with terror, but I wasn’t willing to surrender yet. When I finally hit rock bottom, I took the help that was offered and I’m so glad I did. The thought of my Lord’s return actually excites me now! I had a vision of myself in a white summer dress running barefoot towards Him with the biggest smile on my face. That would not of have been the case in years past, believe me.

Jesus is coming back sooner than we think. What do you want to be found doing when He returns…dancing around a pole a strip club, screaming at your kid, cheating on your husband, stealing or looking at porn? My suggestion: STOP and get the help you need. Help can come in various forms, but someone needs to know, so they can hold you accountable. If you need additional help then there are ministries, counselors and many programs available. Getting help is not shameful (even though it will feel like it) but not getting help is. Please don’t wait any longer. You’ll be so glad you did it. It’s not about how you start, but rather how you finish. Choose to Finish Strong. Think about it this way…when He comes and He is coming, do you want to shrink back due to shame or do you want to run to Him? It’s up to you. Start living your life like it COULD be any minute-I promise it will change everything.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:42-44

Brand New

Trying to be strong, I kissed my boys goodbye and watched them walk towards the parking lot with their grandparents. My heart sank, as hot tears streamed down my face. “Here’s to you boys. I’m doing this for you, because you deserve it.” I softly whispered to myself.

As I turned around, the front office lady firmly held onto both of my shoulders, looked deep in my eyes almost to peer into my soul and said “Michelle, I’m so glad you’re here! You are making the right decision. I don’t care who you WERE before you walked through this doorway, I don’t care what label you HAD out there or what people HAVE said about you! God says you are a NEW CREATION, old things pass away and behold a NEW CREATION,” as she pointed to the threshold of the doorway. Tears now pouring from my eyes and down my neck, as I sobbed in this strangers embrace…

I didn’t understand at the time what those words REALLY meant, but they rang in my ears and in my heart for the next year and a half, as I completed drug rehab. Her belief in the word of God and the conviction in her eyes, as she boldly proclaimed the truth, gave me the assurance that I was in the right place at the right time.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years, I now live a brand new life. That scripture used to be just words that someone else believed, but now they are my reality.

Therefore, if anyone is IN Christ, he is a NEW creation; the old has gone, the NEW has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The Night My Virginity Was Restored!

 

Prior to our wedding night on December 16th, 2012 I had never made love. It was THE BEST night of my life! I had always thought that “making love” meant going slow, but that term was redefined for me that night. I was so…very, very wrong!  One might assume that with a sexual past like mine I would have a solid understanding of what “making love” consisted of, however this path was one I had never walked before…I had nothing to compare this to.  For the first time I was genuinely loved for the real me, not just my body or how I performed. It was the fruition of our real love for each other.

We drove to our hotel after the reception was over, strolled into the lobby with our luggage rolling behind us when I started cracking up. My laugh must have been contagious, because he looked over at me and started laughing too. “What are you laughing about?” He chuckled. I giggled and nervously replied “we’re married, we’re in the lobby of OUR hotel, and we’re about to go up to OUR room?!”

A few days before the wedding, he asked me “Michelle, what would you think about waiting until we arrive in Hawaii to consummate our marriage?” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I have WAITED 6 YEARS, 9 MONTHS and 9 DAYS to have sex!” Actually that’s not what I said, but it was what I thought! I reluctantly agreed after he shared his reasons with me.

Actually, it was kind of nice to have the pressure of the “wedding night” expectations relieved. However, the idea of being unclothed in front of each other for the first time brought anxiety on us both.

Meanwhile, back at the honeymoon suite…I took a deep breath and thought to myself…I AM SO NERVOUS!!! We were standing face to face, well more like face to chest (he’s a foot taller than me) when the time had come to drop my dress, so I mustered up the courage and just did it. As my dress and his jaw dropped simultaneously to the floor, I instinctively rushed to cover my eyes. I laughed uncontrollably-my hands absolutely glued to my face! My brand new husband, recovering from shock, said “WOW, Michelle you are so beautiful” as he nervously checked out his new bride. His gentle way eventually gave me the courage to uncover my face.

That was the night I had looked forward to, yet greatly feared, for many years! “What if I get triggered and my addiction returns?” Here’s the crazy part…I felt like an innocent bride, one that had never been touched by a man. I actually felt more pure that night than I did when I was thirteen. That was the moment I KNEW, without a doubt, that God had truly healed me!

Fast forward: we didn’t wait till Hawaii!!!

So how does a woman who has “crossed the line of no return” have her virginity restored? Continue to “follow me” as I blog the details of how this miracle happened for me and can happen for you or someone you love.CRW_7794[lux]